When we think of wizards we usually think of the grand wizards of myth and fiction. The first names that come to mind could be the legendary Merlin, or the LOTR’s Gandalf, or Harry Potter’s Dumbledore. Wizard literally means “wise man”, and these characters accurately symbolize that archetype. I would include characters like Star Wars’ Yoda in this too.
What are their characteristics? They are all deep in wisdom, they are mentors to young protagonists, and they wield a powerful influence on their surroundings. Their magical abilities seem secondary to their wisdom and political influence. They seem to prefer working behind the scenes, inspiring others to achievement. It seems the wizards who try to directly control events are the evil wizards, like Voldemort or Saruman. Perhaps the wise wizard understands that power is best used indirectly to inspire and not to control.
The classic wizard seems to be inspired by the mythic Norse god Odin in the visage of the Wanderer. The wanderer Odin would be disguised wearing a robe and the broad rimmed hat and carrying a staff, and interact with mortals who did not realize that the god was in their midst. Odin seems tp be the original pagan model for Father Christmas, also Santa Claus. If we examine Santa Claus, he seems to be a bit of a wizard himself. Santa has magical abilities and rules over elves!
The wizard is a powerful fictional archetype. Did the wizard actually exist in real life? Who are the historical wizards? By wizard I don’t only mean practitioners of ceremonial magic, but those who also had a measure of fame and political influence. There were a few. Nostradamus consulted for French royalty and Catherine de Medicis queen consort for the King of France. Grigori Rasputin held sway over Russian Tsar Nicholas II. The famed occultist John Dee was a consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. For a glimpse of John Dee in film, check “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” where the character John Dee appears consulting for Elizabeth.
In modern times we had mystics like Arthur Edward Waite and the infamous Aleister Crowley. We also have the modern wizardry of stage magic. We could consider Houdini as something of a modern wizard. Yet, in the modern era, nobody really comes close to the legendary version of the wizard. Heads of state don’t consult their astrologers anymore…do they?
I will toss out an idea of who might be our modern day wizards. I consider television evangelists to be very similar to wizards. How so? Some televangelists claim supernatural powers. They claim direct communication with God. They predict the future and have access to secret knowledge through “words of knowledge” and even turn aside hurricanes. I have seem them perform these feats on television with my very own eyes! They claim miraculous healing powers and can cause the lame to get out of their wheelchairs. Again, I have seen this happen on TV! They possess great wisdom about the true nature of the world. For instance, they know for a fact that events like Hurricane Katrina was a direct punishment on New Orleans for its wicked ways, and that AIDs was God’s punishment on gays. And above all, the modern televangelists have huge political sway. Political parties serve at their command. They are policy counselors to our great politicians, very much like Merlin was with King Arthur, or Gandalf with Aragorn, or John Dee with the Queen. The great Wizards are still among us today!